RAPID CITY, S.D. — After nearly 11 months of training, three Rapid City Police K-9 handler teams have received their certification for patrol duties.
The patrol dogs are the perfect partner to take down violent offenders and when the going gets tough for police officers, sometimes a K-9 unit can make all the difference.
“By having a dog on scene, it can really change the dynamic of the situation,” said Garrett Mastin, a RCPD K-9 Handler.
On Friday, the Rapid City Police Department welcomed three new K-9 units to its squad after they received state certification.
The certification was an extensive process, which was restructured in March, came with exercises that prepare officers for hostile situations or scenarios with fleeing suspects.
When the suspect of a crime flees the scene, they’re usually trying to get rid of of something like evidence, important evidence, that can be used in the court of law and that’s where these guys come in.
The exercise Friday highlighted the K-9’s sense of smell, where it’s equally important for K-9 officers to recognize the appropriate time to use their dog.
“We have to all keep in order and in the back of our mind to justify whether we can utilize a patrol dog,” said Roan Reiman, a Patrol Officer and K-9 Handler with the RCPD. “Because a patrol dog is a use of force, if I utilize it to apprehend a violent subject, it’s a use of force; just like the other tools in our repertoire.”
Reiman says that handlers and their dogs must develop a relationship where they both know each other’s tendencies. He also said it’s important that the dogs and handlers be trained together so that they make a more effective team.
K-9 officers must deploy their dogs in the right situation and do so while using the appropriate methods to come to a solution.
These situations aren’t easy to differentiate and officers must be able to justify their action.
“We’re going after serious violent offenses, people who are committing these violent felonies; they need to be apprehended one way or another and the K-9 is an awesome resource that we can use,” Mastin said. “Our end goal is to de-escalate the situation, accomplish cooperation with that suspect and have them ultimately relinquish whatever’s going on so it’s a safe outcome.”
Mastin says that police dogs can use their sense of smell to detect a suspect’s scent from the evidence that they attempt to toss away while they’re fleeing the scene.
“The toughest part is transitioning from basic police work, basic police officer function, to a K-9 handler function,” said Brandon Thompson a Police Officer and K-9 Handler for the RCPD. “There’s a lot of differences and a lot of small details that come in to play with utilizing a police dog.”
Using a key resource to de-escalate dangerous situations.